My former boss encouraged in-depth discussion of issues. The goal was to unearth various points of view, assess the pros and cons of each and then select the most effective solution. Some people enjoyed the dialog but never wanted to face the difficult task of making a decision. Inevitably discussion ended and it was time to, “Call the Question!” It was no longer permissible to straddle the line. Everyone was expected to vote “Yes” or “No” and to explain the logic behind their conclusion. The time has arrived to take a similar stand in the issue of cross-dressing and Christianity. Before calling the question, here’s a brief historical perspective.
I have recollections of cross-dressing as far back as age five. Over time the attraction of cross-dressing grew stronger instead of diminishing. Virtually every reference to it was derogatory so it seemed best to hide the truth. I attempted to submerge my feelings and drive them out of my life but those efforts failed and the secret became unbearably heavy.
Ten years ago, in quiet desperation, I set out to understand the truth. Instead of two-headed perverts, I found that the world of cross-dressers was mostly very ordinary people, just like any other group. Over several years I was able to understand cross-dressing and balance it with the other aspects of my life. While working out the issues with my wife we realized that it would be valuable to share what we had learned.
I wrote The Bliss of Becoming One! Integrating ‘Feminine’ Feelings into the Male Psyche Mainstreaming the Gender Community, which has been a significant aid for others facing similar issues. It was the beginning of a writing and public speaking phase that has assisted many cross-dressers and their families in effectively addressing the social and emotional elements of this issue. Those efforts to educate the public have reduced much unnecessary pain and anguish.
In recent years my attention shifted to the spiritual concerns of Christians who cross-dress. Their primary desire is to be accepted as they are and to participate fully in the affairs of the church. A large segment of Christianity has adopted a literal translation of a single Old Testament verse, Deuteronomy 22:5. It says that, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” The church has frequently used that literal interpretation to automatically brand all male (but not female) cross-dressers as sinners in need of repentance. At the same time, the church has largely ignored the literal translation of other verses in the same chapter.
In Ministry or Repentance I presented a comprehensive logical argument for rejecting the selected literal interpretation view. To date, no one has attempted to directly refute my position. Instead they have largely ignored the argument and refused to take note of the context of the verse. The most common responses are to either shift the argument to vaguer Biblical verses or to assert their spiritual authority. If I am wrong, shouldn’t someone in Christian leadership take me aside and explain the shortcomings of my position? Why hasn’t anyone done that?
By not discussing these issues openly, nothing changes. Christianity is enormously stronger than any issue. Denial and avoidance are among its worst enemies. As followers of Christ we must set aside our preconceptions. We must confront issues. We must become informed. We must identify the most effective solution. Finally, we must take action.
Bishop Paul Egertson of the Southern California West Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently spoke out strongly against the mistreatment of gays and lesbians and committed himself to action. He said, “The real risks are taken by those who put themselves and not just their words on the line. At this point in my ministry, I can no longer advocate this cause with credibility from a position of personal safety. I am called to join in solidarity with those who are willing to be hurt as well as be heard, walking the way of the cross.”
That brings us to the question —
Question #1 – Do you believe that Deuteronomy 22:5 declares that cross-dressing is intrinsically wrong? That it automatically condemns any form of it as a sin requiring repentance in order to be accepted into the Christian Church and to be accepted by God?
If your answer is No, go to Question #2.
If your answer is Yes, please reread my article. It reflects several years of study to understand the Biblical position on cross-dressing. Please correspond with other spiritual leaders or myself to see if dialog might enable you to see the issue differently. Try to approach this as Jesus would. As long as cross-dressers hide they can never achieve an intimate loving relationship with Him. You have the ability to help break down the barriers.
If you remain unwilling to participate in any steps to increase your understanding, perhaps your version of Christianity isn’t aligned with the Gospel’s message of God’s unconditional love and grace. Perhaps Jesus was referring to people like you in the 23rd chapter of Matthew.
Question #2 – Have you opened the doors of your church to cross-dressers?
If your answer is Yes, go to Question #3.
If your answer is No, please reach out to other spiritual leaders to learn what they have done to open their churches. What would help you take a step forward in resolving this issue?
Question #3 – How will you help others to resolve this issue?
Will you correspond with other spiritual leaders to help them understand that cross-dressing is not an automatic sin requiring repentance? Will you help them discover ways to open their churches to cross-dressers? Will you actively promote your church as a home for cross-dressers and advise them how to approach you and other pastors?
Richard Molling is a married heterosexual cross-dresser who began seeking community at age 40 under the name Rachel Miller, which is the pen name he used to publish The Bliss of Becoming One! Integrating ‘Feminine’ Feelings into the Male Psyche Mainstreaming the Gender Community in 1996. An accomplished speaker, Molling has worked for four decades to increase understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.